Operation facelift – 2009 edition

Over the last several days the Montreal Canadiens have gone through enormous changes.

Going into “Free agent frenzy”… I was “super looking forward” to that date.. to see what if anything was gonna happen with my loved Montreal Canadiens.

I was floored when Gainey pulled off that trade for Scott Gomez. I was totally floored…

I didn’t like that deal at all. Gomez comes with a hefty price tag. Mind you, I do think that he comes with considerable puck moving skill… but it was obviously a commitment to take on that contract.

By noon time, July 1st…. I had a doom and gloom feeling… and couldn’t shake it… but as soon as the signings started (not montreal’s… but in general) I felt much better.

Montreal’s day started with the signing of Jaroslav Spacek, an offensive defenseman from the Buffalo Sabres. I was not thrilled at this signing…. 3 years for a 35 year old… but after checking out his numbers… he has seemed very durable… and fairly consistent… he has pretty much always been a “plus” player in +/-… except in his Columbus years…

Then later… Hal Gill… which I didn’t like at all either… essentially, I had gone through about 2 days of Mr Negativity in regards to the Habs after the draft. Then when I thought about Gill, I actually felt a bit better. He’s big…. and what sold me a bit on him, was that he made it to the cup finals 2 years in a row and won last year. And he was used in both playoff runs. He could be effective in clearing room for Price… which we need.

I was ready to step out.. and go with the family to the July 1st fireworks… when all of a sudden, I saw that the Habs signed Mike Cammalleri.. at first I thought.. “wow.. Gainey landed Mike Cammalleri!”.. all of a sudden, it was looking better. I was starting to become very optimistic.

When I got back late that night… what??? Gainey signed Brian Gionta?? Now, I was floored.. the face of the team was changed… and changed much more dramatically then anyone could have guessed.

Now, most of these guys are small…. which seems like a problem. But I gotta say… 2 years in a row… 2 puck possession teams won the cup. Some of their most important players weren’t huge in stature… (think of Crosby and Maxim Talbot)

It surely didn’t seem to be a problem when the Canadiens finished 1st in the east 2 seasons ago and all the “experts” picked them to contend for the cup.

There are many variables that come into play for a team to succeed. Is the team well disciplined? Do they really play within their coach’s plan? Are they having an injury free season (Habs 2 seasons ago)? Are they having an injury filled season (Habs last season)? Do the players get along? How is the dressing room? etc…etc.. etc..

If rough and tough teams won the cup every year… then Philly should have won several years running…

Talk was about re-signing Kovalev… which I had hoped for … some talked about Tanguay.. Koivu… Even though there has been an overwhelming consensus about changing the team’s core. But that wouldn’t really “changed” the face of the team.

I would certainly welcome back any of those guys if Gainey and Martin think they fit. I’m hoping that Martin runs a tight defensive system this year… and shots on goal go down…. Gionta and Gomez played their best years under such a system.

I love Kovalev… I love Koivu… Koivu has been one of my favorite players for years and years. I would take them back in a heartbeat.

Tanguay… if it’s true he chose not to play in a little pain in last year’s playoff… I don’t mind him going.

After a couple of days to think all this over… I’m very positive about this year’s team. Although, there are still a couple of holes to fill. Gotta have 1 more D-man.. And, get a bigger center.

I’m really lookin’ forward to the pre-season camps…. really really lookin’ forward to it.

So we have 3 new core guys locked in for 5 years….. next year, I believe there’s only 1 guy who will be UFA… so this will be the core for a few years.

I’m optimistic.


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